Connecticut Agricultural College
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BOOK 582.B15 c 1
BAILEY # TREE FOLK
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THE TREE FOLK
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THE TREE FOLK
HENRY TURNER BAILEY
DIRECTOR OF THE CLEVELAND SCHOOL OF ART
'I'^ill sing of the bounty of the big trees
WASHBURN i£ THOMAS
BY HENRY TURNER BAILEY
PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
EDWARD WESLEY CUSHMAN
"THE LOST LEADER"
ADORING LOVER OF NATURE
MISUNDERSTOOD BY MANY
LOVED AND HONORED BY A FEW FRIENDS
AMONG WHOM THE AUTHOR
IS PROUD TO HAVE BEEN
A LECTURE, heard by many, illustrated with sketches
in charcoal made before the audience, is the basis
of this book.
That lecture has been most generously received. So
many friends have expressed the wish that it might be
put into permanent form, that it is now published in the
hope that it may reach and please a larger company of
those who love the ancient and honorable race of trees.
Those who have heard the lecture may be disap-
pointed. Cold type cannot carry the mood evoked by the
living voice, nor can pencil drawings made in cold
blood have the tang of rapid sketches made while talk-
ing, and spiced with touches of color.
Those who have never heard the lecture may like the
book. At least, that is the hope of both author and pub-
lisher. Needless to add, the point of view is not that of
the botanist or biologist, but of the artist.
If the book serves to give clearer vision to the eager
eyes of the elect; if it helps to give sight to eyes hitherto
holden that they saw not the beauty of our quiet
friends the Tree Folk, I shall feel happy to have been
of some little service to my fellows and to the Trees
themselves. They need friends. They respond to friend-
ship as quickly and as generously as if they had never
been abused or neglected. They are about the best
•Christians I know!
I must here acknowledge with pleasure and gratitude
the friendship of Mr. Francis F. Prentiss of Cleveland,
in allowing me to borrow ''The Brookside Elm" and
*'The Spire''; of Mrs. Prentiss, owner of "Queen Vic-
toria," and of Mr. Worcester R. Warner of Tarrytown,
N. Y., owner of "Methuselah," who have loaned the
drawings and given me permission to reproduce them
here. The other illustrations were drawn especially for
the book in September, 1925.
Henry Turner Bailey
Booth Hill, North Scituate
THE TREE FOLK
THE TREE FOLK
YOU never saw a tree. You have seen some particular
kind of tree. No^ you have not seen that, even; all
you have seen is some individual tree — the tall nut
tree, let us say, that grew in the pasture, when you
were a boy, near the edge of the swamp where the frogs
peeped in April.
That tall nut tree was a miraculous tree. * All trees
are miraculous. We know practically nothing about the
essential element in them, the life in them, the souls of
them that make them what they are.
Within fifty feet of where I sit at my desk, stand two
trees that were born the same year. I can hear the
crooning of one of them and the chattering of the other
as the morning breeze walks past them on its way to the
sea. One tree is a soft pine; the other is a seedling apple.
Who planted the seeds for me I do not know, but I sus-
pect that Old Westwind, the busiest parcels-post man we
have in these parts, planted one of them, and a friend
of his by the name of Gray Squirrel planted the other.
For thirty-nine years the somethings lodged originally
between or within the particles of matter in those two
seeds have been at work building those two trees
(Plate I). The something in the pine seed, let us say, the
4 THE TREE FOLK
soul of it^ built a trunk that stood erect; the apple soul
built a trunk that leaned northward. Pine trees alwavs
stand up straight; Apple trees always lean one way or
another. Do you know why? The pine soul built soft
white wood with pitch in it; the apple soul, hard white
wood with syrup in it.
The pine soul clothed itself with spears, five in a
sheaf; the apple soul with shields, each alone, the under
side the more delicately damascened. The pine soul
dotes on helical curves; the apple soul on curves of
force. Draw a sheaf of the spears through your wet lips
three or four times and they will stick together, as indi-
cated in the sketch (A). The lines of cleavage are not
straight; they are curves twisted on the surface of the
green cylinder. The pine cone is like this, only fatter and
more complex (B). The curves run both ways, dividing
the surface into diamonds, each a scale with its little
beak. This fruit of the pine is brown, dry, hard, sticky,
bitter; from the pioneer's point of view fit only to kindle
The apple leaf has a contour based on two curves of
force, as Ruskin called them, with crooked veins which
manage to stagger along, growing weaker, in the same
general direction (C). A curve of force is like the path
of a good sky-rocket, or of a jet of water from the nozzle
of your lawn hose: at first nearly straight, but curving
more and more until it explodes or falls in drops. Two
1l\yo p'oocl neaolibors who do mob think,,
alike, on some rrtSitters,
Axx Apple and A Pine
THE TREE FOLK 5
such curves, butt to butt, so to speak, define the shape
of the apple as cut from stem to blossom end. The gen-
eral direction of the stem and the shape of the seeds and
of their cells are determined by that same forceful line.
The fruit of the apple is golden, juicy, mellow, delicious.
But both these tree souls are predisposed in favor of
the number five. Cut the spear sheaf crosswise and you
find the radial section (E). Each spear shaft has two
flat sides and one curved side like a piece of pie. Cut the
apple crosswise and you get the larger rosette (F). Sev-
eral star forms are here beautifully related to one
Emerson's Poet, you remember, walked abroad:
Pondering shadows, colors, clouds.
Grass buds and caterpillar shrouds.
Plants on which the wild bees settle,
Tints that spot the violet's petal;
Why nature loves the number five.
And why the star form she repeats;
Wonderer at all alive,
Wonderer at all he meets.
TREES HAVE SOULS. Let us stop to wonder a mo-
ment over this mystery. How does it happen that
these two tree souls, reacting on the same earth with the
same sunshine and the same rain, manage to produce so
consistently such diverse results? We may as well con-
fess that we do not know. Nobody knows. It is as great
6 THE TREE FOLK
a miracle as the most devout could wish for to throw at
the head of a sceptic.
It is another manifestation of that something we call
life, individualized life, the animate soul of a thing, that
power within your body which, reacting upon its envi-
ronment, grows your body and keeps it in repair, substi-
tuting new for old, never forgetting anything, not even
that scar on your thumb you acquired when a child and
which helps to identify you as you yourself, now, after
fifty years. What a marvel it all is!
If you and I were to sit at the same table three times
a day and eat of the same food for a hundred years we
would never look like each other. No. Our souls are in-
dependent and selfish, each jealously guarding its own
identity. The souls of the trees are the same, each bring-
ing forth fruit after its kind.
IDEALS seem to be held tenaciously by trees. In other
words, each tree thinks of itself as belonging to a
certain family. That family has its own traditions, and
habits of thought. Each member of that family cherishes
the family ideal in its heart and does its best to live up
to that ideal. In the fell clutch of circumstance, thwarted
by unfortunate conditions, maimed by its enemies,
crowded by its neighbors, lashed by storms, struck by
lightning, the spirit of the tree is never broken. As
long as the tree lives it is loyal to the highest ideals of
THE TREE FOLK 7
its ancestors, maintained through countless generations.
Compared with our common trees, we men are recent
and pygmy and as temporary as the morning dew.
From my window as I write I can look out upon an
old Red Cedar who has stood on what I am pleased to
call my hill, for some four hundred years. He was there
before the Pilgrims landed. His aerials reported to him
the din of the French and Indian wars, of the Revolu-
tion, of the War of 1812, of the Mexican War, of the
Civil War, of the Spanish War, of the World War. They
are tuned now to catch the thrilling news of universal
peace. Fie is as vigorous as Mars, as handsome as Apollo,
and as dignified as Jove himself. As I look at his maj-
esty, I feel like lifting my hat, as my friend Wesley
Cushman once removed his in the presence of a pedi-
greed Jersey cow. "Why did you do that?" I asked.
*' Because," said he, with a hint of tears in his voice,
" because she is so much better cow than I am a man."
GOOD FORM is one of the traditions. The trees
have their ancient standards of shape, the ideal
proportions every member of the family should aspire
You know of course that some human families tend
to plumpness in the individual. Willie, for example, may
rise early, do his daily dozen, take cold baths, avoid
starchy foods, and work from sun to sun, but his Weight-
8 THE TREE FOLK
man ancestors will have their way, and Willie, who was
foreordained a fatted calf, will surely grow up as an ox
of the stall. The stupid ideals of that sub-conscious
Weightman soul will not have it otherwise.
By way of contrast, the Vinals just naturally run thin.
Ida may diet and lie abed in the morning, and dose
herself with anti-lean elixir indefinitely, but to the end
of her days she will be a tall, thin, sharp-featured, lan-
tern-jawed Vinal. That is the family tradition. Why
kick against the pricks?
The trees are like that (Plate II). The Lombardy Pop-
lars (i) are spare; the Apple trees (2) are rotund. No
member of the apple family would dare to think of
being higher than it is wide. A Poplar of such propor-
tions would die of chagrin. All the young Cedars (4) are
thin like the Poplars, but pointed in the head like a
candle flame. The Pines (5) are pointed also but they
come broader. The Maples (7) are egg-shaped, small end
uppermost. The Ashes (10) hold the same standard of
shape but with the smaller end below, as in a normal
human head. The Oaks (11), red or white, left to them-
selves in a pasture, assume the shape of a great hay cock
of green balanced on a sturdy central post of brown. The
Elms (15) believe in the hemispherical shape, but carry
it tipped to one side rather jauntily, like the Palms (8),
who are a more long-legged race. The Hickories (6) stand
with the Poplars for towering mass, but are inclmed to
Ideals 12. / \
^ V 11
THE TREE FOLK .9
be broader. The Spruces (12) are conical; the Orange
trees (9) are spherical; the Junipers of New England (3)
are hemispherical, flat side up; the Locusts (13) the
shape of a loon's egg; and the young Tupelos (14) are
fatter than the Pines.
Just as a girl when in love can recognize her young
man a long way off, even in a fog, by his shape or mass
alone, so a lover of trees knows each one of them in-
stantly, though reduced by the distance to mere silhou-
ettes of shimmering purple.
Of course the tree often fails to achieve its ideal, like
the rest of us; but it never forgets that ideal. Deformed
by the wind, broken by ice and snow, slashed by ruth-
less mankind, in its abused body the anointed eye can
trace the remembered dream of the family ideal.
Yes, even in dense forests, where the trees race up-
ward, striving with one another for a place in the sun,
they never lose entirely their likeness to their more for-
tunate relations who live in the open. They are like city
dwellers in that particular. Blood will tell.
HABITS of growth, with the trees, are like the laws
of the Medes and Persians. They must not be
No doubt you once heard a calm aristocratic woman
of long lineage say quietly but with unforgettable em-
phasis, "Our family never does that." ''The Manches-
lo THE TREE FOLK
ters do not marry under thirty." "No Litchfield ever
died with his boots off." "The Lowells do not speculate
in oil." "All the Cushings have legal minds." "There
has been a clergyman in every generation of Emersons."
Family pride gets itself handed on from sire to son,
wrapped in some such verbal robe of righteousness.
Righteousness among the tree folk consists in main-
taining the family traditions as to what constitutes good
form, not only in appearance but in structure (Plate
III). The growth of limbs, branches and twigs must be
according to the tribal Hoyle.
Poplars must be upright, with every shoot a curve of
force (4). Elms must be graceful, with Hogarth's Line of
Beauty throughout (3). Every spray of the Maple must
be supported by a reversed curve (7). Young Tupelos
are a level-headed race, with all the main branches
nearly horizontal (2). All the branches, twigs, and
needles of the Pine must radiate (8). In short, radiation
in one pattern or another is the fundamental law of tree
life, each family interpreting that law in its own way.
Radiate structure in trees may be obvious in the Ash
(i), or occult as in the Tupelo (3). It may be from a
fount within the body of the tree as in the Palm (6), or
outside that body as in the Pine (8). In any case it is
a fascinating element. A Palm stem explodes into leaves
at its summit. A Pine's branches radiate like the fingers
of your hand.
THE TREE FOLK ii
All systems of radiation have as their aim, "free air''
for every leaf. The motherly tree souls thrusting forth
their innumerable children every spring have an un-
canny foresight as to where they shall stand. Look at
any spray as it hangs over your head some calm day,
and see how it floats in the breathless air. As the fila-
ments of a bit of sea moss spread themselves in water,
so the leaves are poised, each alone, without touching
That each should in his house abide
Therefore was the world so wide.
And for the sake of each tiny leaflet was the space
And yet, as "No man hveth unto himself," according
to St. Paul, so no leaf liveth unto itself. Each has room
for itself only because it allows every other leaf the
same privilege. There is a hint of communism in all this.
Are the trees wiser than I ? They have no submerged
tenths, no slums, among all their countless myriads of
DRESS is another matter about which the trees are
, particular. Their leaves are worn like robes, mar-
vellous robes, that grow, and change colors with age, and
are put off without regret when they must go to serve
The Scotch used to wear plaids; the Quakers con-
12 THE TREE FOLK
demned all colors but gray; the clergy favor black broad-
cloth. Certain families have the seal habit, when it comes
to furs; while the new rich prefer something more luxu-
riant, like monkey fur. Some women always wear
stripes; some men only pin-head checks.
The Tree Folk are like that, only more so (Plates IV
The soft Pines (i) always wear velvet. Their silhou-
ettes against the sky have a softness at their edges like
the lustre upon the folds of the velvet robes of Doges.
The Cedars (2) are fur clad and very handsome, espe-
cially in the winter when all their neighbors are naked
and shivering with the cold. The Birches (3) wear shim-
mering lace, half veiling their silvery limbs. The Poplars
(4) affect a coarse woven woolen goods, tweeds, very
substantial and distinguished. The Elms (5) wear
shawls, thrown gracefully over their broad shoulders,
and the shawls have fringes that sway and ripple in the
wind. The Maples (6) wear watered silks with brilliant
patterns. There is always a certain vivacity, a sparkling
quality, in a Maple. Then there are several families that
wear print goods, like the Pears (7), with a snappy, almost
impudent, freedom. The gnarled Oaks — the poets and
story tellers for centuries have called them gnarled —
are more or less gnarled in their clothing (8). Gnarled
means knotted. All the oaks are dappled with knots of
foliage. Sometimes, as in our northern White Oaks, the
'if I / •
THE TREE FOLK 13
knots are so loose that they resemble the curls on the
head of an English boy, but in the Live Oaks of the
south the knots are so tight in appearance that they are
more like the kinks in the wool of a negro. The Live
Oaks, however, inherit about the most lordly and de-
fiant beauty of any members of the family. Read what
Sidney Lanier says about them in his ''Marshes of
Glynn.'' The Willows (9) are feather clad. For silvery
loveliness they are unrivalled. Oaks are masculine.
Willows are as feminine as the Lady of Shalott. The
Locusts (10) have figured robes, with large open spaces
between the masses of the design, which have blurred
edges like the dark blue units on an old Dutch plate or
the flowers on a Dresden ribbon. The Pitch Pines (11)
are similarly gowned, but the edges of the masses are
more sharply defined. The Weeping Willows (12), like
other lachrymose people, are not especially cheerful
additions to the landscape. They wear garments about
all fringe, like a Spanish shawl. The fringe seems a
bit overdone. The tree looks like a girl with long curls
or a woman with numerous braids hanging below her
If trees must hang their leaves about them, let them
emulate the Eucalyptus family. That's a great race!
They are rather slovenly when it comes to house-keep-
ing, but they are a handsome lot, from the slim maiden
who shoots up a hundred feet and dangles a few scraps
14 THE TREE FOLK
of clothing against the sunrise, to the ample matron who
sits as comfortably upon the hillside as a Gypsy, the
luxuriant folds of her garments golden with the sunset.
COLORS, in tree robes, change with age, as I sug-
gested a few moments ago. Those changes cannot
be illustrated in pencil. You will have to use your own
eyes. Make up your mind to concentrate on tree colors
for one year out of your three score and ten. You would
never regret it.
You would see the Water Maples, when the Spring
awoke them some morning in April and they became
conscious of their nudity, blush themselves into a netted
robe of coral. You would see the Elms put on their
brown old laces, and the Beeches don their spangles of
copper. You would see the Sugar Maples in silks of
chrysoprase, and the Apple trees in velvets of jade.
The woodlands in April are more lovely than at any
other time of year. All the new robes of the tree folk are
of gauze, veiling but not obscuring their exquisite
bodies. And the color of that gauze ranges from silver
through gold and copper to ruby and emerald. The trees
in spring have colors for which there are actually no
words in the language and no images in the mind, as
Ruskin says, colors which can be appreciated only when
present to the eye, and not even then unless you have
the soul of an artist.
THE TREE FOLK 15
These robes thicken and change in color throughout
the spring, until in summer they are all green. Not one
green, but all the greens there are! As the fall approaches
these greens dissolve into all the colors of the rainbow:
the Cottonwoods become yellow; the Maples, orange;
the Oaks, red. The Pines and Hemlocks keep their
green. Blue and purple appear in hazy distances and
slumbrous shadows and in the seedpacks which the
Cedars, the Viburnums, and the Grapes wear as jewels of
sapphire and lapis lazuli and amethyst set in Roman
gold. It is a thrilling pageant.
There are some who have never seen it, — some among
the great company of autoists whose motto is ''any-
where but here," and who recognize but three kinds of
growing things. When they see a blur of green low down
they exclaim ''grass!" when the blur of green is head
high they say "Oh, bushes!" and when it is so high that
it extends above the upper rim of the wind-shield they
Verily, He hath made everything beautiful in its time;
but, alas, the brutish man knoweth not, the hustler doth
not consider this which God maketh from the beginning
to the end. They chase after the east wind and feed
upon vanity. As for me. Open thou mine eyes that they
may behold the beauty of the Lord, when I inquire in
1 6 THE TREE FOLK
COOPERATION is another strong point with the
Tree Folk. They know how to pull together to
maintain the family traditions.
They are not like old man Black at Hatherly Centre.
I pled with him once to work with the rest of us in get-
ting out a strong vote in favor of an improvement that
would benefit the whole town. "Yes/' he said at last,
" I '11 cooperate; but I be darned if I '11 change one of my
ideas." That sort of cooperation means "nothin' doin'."
When I was a student at the Massachusetts Art
School, and went to Boston daily on an Old Colony
train, we used to see, above the roof of the Pumping
Station at Cohasset, what appeared to be the top of an
immense elm tree, a great green dome, glittering in the
morning light (Plate VI). But as the train moved on
we discovered that the dome was supported not by one
giant trunk but by three common trunks.
After midnight, when things come alive, the three
trees must have discussed the situation somewhat as
follows: ''Here we are growing so near together that
no one of us can be a perfect Elm. We will cooperate
to show the world what a first-class Elm looks like." —
(The middle one was speaking.) — "We can do that if
you, brother, will agree to grow southward mostly, and
you, brother, will agree to grow northward, while I
grow eastward and westward only." Whether they came
to that agreement in so many words or not, I do not
THE TREE FOLK 17
know, but that is what they did; and the result was the
handsomest Elm dome on the South Shore.
The town fathers saw fit to use the knoll, on which the
faithful brothers stood, as a gravel pit, and in course of
time they undermined and overthrew the trees, thus
bringing to naught the patient work of a hundred years.
But that means nothing to a Town Father whose eyes
have to be kept at the level of the public highways and
the voting list.
Down on Cape Cod, at Hyannis, there used to be a
row of Willow trees as handsome as a house afire. The
foliage of these trees was about like smoke in appear-
ance (Plate VII). To the eye of the artist that is very
handsome indeed. It is as handsome as an ostrich plume,
or the cloud from the locomotive of a mile-long freight
What makes it beautiful? That which artists call gra-
dation or rhythmic sequence. That plume goes from
broad to narrow; from open to solid; from gray to black.
Moreover, its general movement follows the line of that
curve of force you have heard of before. How different
it is from a row of young Maples, D, such as the new
Park Commissioner boasts about: ''All alike, the same
size, the same distance apart, not a dead one in the lot."
That perfect row of A No. i trees is as handsome as the
noise a vigorous boy makes with a stick rattling along
a perfectly good picket fence. It is Chinese music.
1 8 THE TREE FOLK
Something to get on your nerves if continued much
longer. It would be written as at B. But suppose that
same sequence of notes were to be sung by Galli Curci
as indicated by the marks and annotations ! You would
be thrilled and breathless and on tiptoe for the dying
echo of that last note. It has become an exquisite rhyth-
mic sequence of tone.
Such was the mass of willow foliage represented by
the gray plume in the diagram. The Willows, discussing
after twelve o'clock at night their situation on the
bleak Cape, with the winds from the north Atlantic
pounding away at them, decided to cooperate to main-
tain the family tradition (Plate VIII). The first knelt
and held his umbrella with the handle almost horizontal.
This enabled the next to hold his standing, the third to
walk upright, and the last to pose nonchalantly as though
nothing had happened. Thus, all together they pro-
duced the massive crown of a gigantic Willow whose
ideal branches and bole out of sight in the ground are
indicated by the dotted lines. This is a far more impres-
sive presentation of the family ideal than any single in-
dividual could have achieved.
When shall we quit saying, *' Competition is the hfe
of trade"? If it is the life of trade it is the death of
profits. Cooperation is the law of trade, and the life of
profits. Cooperation gave primitive man his victory over
the Saurians, the Romans victory over the Greeks, and
"^'Growth \\ .^ \\
ola sfrou-p ot
on Cape Co<L
to nismtai'a. \
the fci,TniW traclit'ion*
of shape/ J
THE TREE FOLK 19
the Allies victory in the World War. Cooperation is the
secret of every symphony, of every masterpiece of paint-
ing, of every cathedral. It is the secret of all noble
achievement. *'The darkness and chains of hell/' Dr.
William T. Harris used to say, *' are but symbols of the
isolation of the individual. The joys of heaven are all
The trees understand cooperation, even within per-
sonal limits. When the wandering boy thoughtlessly
knifes off the leader of a young Pine, two or more of the
branches rise up to take its place. At first they compete
for primacy. But as soon as one branch has proved its
capacity for leadership the others retire from the race
and fall back as cooperating members of the growing
tree. Herein is wisdom.
SINCERITY is a cardinal virtue in the Tree world.
Good trees are honest, frank, and unashamed of
their past. They never try to hide a scar, or dye their
hair, or paint their faces. They never wear wigs or false
teeth. They accept what befalls them and do the best
they can. Or, as a friend of mine says, "They take the
favors Providence thrusts upon them and look as cheer-
ful as possible."
The tree bears in its body the true record of its life.
Have a look at a spray of Horsechestnut, for example.
Here is one I have sketched for you (Plate IX).
20 THE TREE FOLK
By noting the annular rings, at the points indicated
by the dotted lines, you can see that 1925 has been a
prosperous year for this tree. The growth was longer and
the leaves and buds more numerous than they were in
1924 or in 1923. The year 1924 was a bad one, the worst
in the history of this spray. That year it produced a
short twig with but six leaves, whereas in 1925 it grew
a shoot more than twice as long, with eight leaves (only
the foot of the leaf stalk is indicated in six of them, and
one is hidden behind the stem), and two twig buds,
besides the promising terminal bud. To find the equal
of that you must go back to 1922. A part of that year's
growth a boy, with a jack-knife having a sharp blade,
nicked in one place, cut away, for some reason, or prob-
ably for no reason at all. He was just cutting. In 1924
it lost another twig; that one was broken off somehow.
The leaf scar visible at A reveals, by its five dots, that
the leaf had but fivQ leaflets, whereas in 1923, as shown
at B, the leaves were more vigorous and had seven leaf-
lets each, like the one I have left upon the 1925 twig.
But that one, alas, was attacked by an enemy, some
varmint of the cut-worm or saw-fly kind, and lost one of
its leaflets, at C. How this leaf has suffered ! The draw-
ing was made in early September but the leaf is already
moribund, ragged, eaten by insects, browned and rolled
with a blight, torn by the wind, and twisted with
drought. But what a vigorous stem it has ! There is no
trace of weakness in that.
THE TREE FOLK 21
If you look at the drawing closely you will see that
an insect punctured that 1922 pruned branch, near its
arm-pit, and that the older wood has more scars and
other anatomical detail than the new wood, just as the
skin of an old man is more marked and wrinkled than
the skin of a baby.
What is true of this twig is true for every twig and for
every tree. Did you ever read *' The Thousand Year
Old Tree," by Enos Mills? Better read that sometime;
it will help you to appreciate a tree.
The Tree Folk, like people of our own race, become
more interesting with age, chiefly because their appear-
ance reflects their life history, their real character.
A baby's face means nothing, except to its doting
parents and to its immediate grandmothers. The face of
a child of ten is much like the face of any other child
of that age. But when a man has lived intensely and
suff"ered much, failed a few hundred times and tri-
umphed once or twice, his face begins to have a char-
acter all its own, good or bad, according to the heart in
The son of Sirach, several centuries ago, perceiving
this fact, paid in advance a fine tribute to our grand-
parents: ''As the clear light is upon the holy candlestick,
so is the beauty of the face in ripe age.'' We are not
responsible for the face we are born with, but we are
responsible for the face we die with.
22 THE TREE FOLK
CHARACTER is so precious, so personal, so indi-
vidual, that each human being has a name all his
You do not like to deal anonymously with people.
You like to have intimate names of your own invention
for your best friends, names known only to the elect.
When you come to have intimate friends among the
trees you will feel the same toward them. You will have
names for them, as I have for the chief Cedars upon
my country place.
The Hill on which my house stands was owned first
by Timothy Hatherly, Merchant Adventurer, from Lon-
don. It was granted to him and his ''Conihasset Part-
ners" by the King of England, before 1626. That old
Cedar I mentioned, to which I feel like lifting my hat,
I call Timothy Hatherly. From all I can learn about
that redoubtable old Pilgrim, he should feel honored to
have his name so perpetuated. The next owner of my
Hill was William Booth, 1650 or thereabouts; conse-
quently the next oldest Cedar, the one beyond the wall
westward from the back door of my studio, the one in
which my Ruby-crowned Kinglet stops to sing to me
the first morning in May every year on his way from
Yucatan to Labrador, is named William Booth. A few
rods eastward, on the edge of one of the terraces of the
drumhn, stands Jotham Wade, the next in order in age.
Timothy Hatherly is about four hundred years old,
THE TREE FOLK 23
William Booth about three hundred and twenty-five;
Jotham Wade is two hundred and fifty. He was the
next owner of the land. From him it passed to Celia
Peaks, a cantankerous little old maid (married at last
to a Deacon, when past middle life), who hobbled about
bowed over a cane. The next oldest Cedar, a squat one,
whose leader was ripped off by some accident a century
ago, bears her name. Aunt Lydia had the land next.
You would admire the tree named after her. It is a
cedar in its early prime, tall, symmetrical, and as hand-
some as she was at seventy. That cedar is about one
hundred and twenty-five years old now, and is just be-
ginning to take on the plumpness of the matron in mid-
dle life. **Aunt Lydia'' has passed the age and shape of
"The Spire'' (Plate X). Cedars hold that school-girl
figure for about seventy-five years. Having attained ap-
proximately full height at fifty, they grow stouter and
broader and more picturesque as the centuries deal with
I would like to introduce to you some of the other
members of our woodland aristocracy. It is worth while
to have a nodding acquaintance, at least, with the first
Plate XI shows you *' Methuselah." He is one of the
White Pines. Two centuries old, he fills a crystal sphere
some eighty feet in diameter. You can lie flat upon his
thick top as on a curled hair mattress. Henry Howe has
24 THE TREE FOLK
The Frontispiece gives you a glimpse of the body of
*' Queen Victoria," an old Beech in the Grandma Clapp
Woods. They used to say in England that Victoria
could sit perfectly still longer than any other living
person. Her namesake outsits her! There she has been
for two hundred years, and there she is likely to remain
for two hundred more. It is startling to come upon her
white body, gleaming against the dark background of
the gloomy swamp woods. And then, she is so fat!
One almost feels guilty even to look at her.
You would enjoy old ''King Priam," a veteran Red
Cedar in the Seaverns' Pasture. He was so named be-
cause of his sons, who stand about him to protect him
from his Greek enemies. The Trojan King had seventy
sons, they say; this old potentate has eighty-three by
actual count. They stand around him in a solid ring —
the oldest as tall now as the old man himself. There is
a secret pathway you could follow, if you knew the
password, that would take you through the magic circle
into the King's hall. You would find it circular, roofed
with a pierced fretwork of jasper and verd-antique,
and floored with malachite. In the centre, by the side
of the King, in the springtime, stands a great living
bouquet of eglantine, and in the fall, one of barberry,
dripping with jewels of sard.
You should see ''Homer," — the blind singer, — a
Pine on the Falls Ledges; beneath whose shadows I lay
THE TREE FOLK 25
me down with great delight and Hsten to the "Surf
sound of an aerial sea." And *'The Martyr" on Judges
Hill, a noble hemlock, still living, though half his limbs
have been slashed off by sinful man to deck a Christian
holiday. And " Agamemnon," king of men, lord of
Mount Ararat, a giant upon whose shoulders you can
sit and see all eastern Massachusetts and half of the
All your country sea and land
Dwarfed to measure of your hand;
Your day's ride a furlong space;
Your city tops a glimmering haze.
As an old farmer said, after he had ascended to the
tower room of Trustworth, *'From as high up as that
a man can see all he ought to see."
Then you ought to know "Eleanor" the Queen Elm,
a hundred feet high, with floating garments of green
silk whose fringes almost touch the ground. Plate XII
shows one of her ladies-in-waiting. And old "Odin," the
King Oak who spreads at his feet on the silver snow,
when the New Year moon sails high above, a cape of
purple lace a hundred and twenty-five feet from side to
side, and who sometimes wears diamonds between all
"Lazarus" (Plate XIII) is a Pitch Pine at Trustworth,
He was smitten down in his young manhood by the
great gale of 1898, but we stood him up again with fall
and windlass, buried his northern roots and weighted
16 THE TREE FOLK
them with big stones, and there he stands to this day
as vigorous and handsome as ever.
Time would fail me to tell of ''Spudaios/' and ''The
Ice Box," and ''The North Pole"; and of "The Tree of
Heaven," to which ascent is made by "Jacob's Ladder";
and of "Shagamenticus," Big Chief of Elms; and of
"Massasoit," the great Wild Cherry, who still stands
guard by the Indian Corn Field on Huckleberry Island;
and of "Noah"; and the patriarch "Job," who through
patient continuance in well doing, attained a height of
a hundred feet, shaded cattle, guided sailors at sea, and
gave farmers' boys a glimpse of the golden dome of the
State House twenty-five miles away. These all grew^ old
gracefully, bearing witness to the fact that all things
work together for good to the children of God.
Have a look at Plate XIV. I called that group of trees
the Tiptop Battalion, because I found it on guard on
the tip-top of Mount i\rarat, where the New England
edition of the ark landed (I can show you where our
Noah dumped his ballast, to prove it!). For a hundred
years, these two valiant Pines have stood their ground
side by side — like Harmodius and Aristogiton, or Cas-
tor and Pollux — meeting the fierce drives of the south-
west winds in summer and of the northeast gales in
winter. During recent years they have been reinforced
by the Rock Maple they sheltered in his youth, beneath
whose protection in turn, young Pines are flourishing.
THE TREE FOLK 27
to carry the fight on into the next generation. What
wind-bent and ice-maimed veterans they are; but how
defiant! See how a scouting hmb of one of them crept
out toward the enemy, and then sprang up full armed
like another tree. They are infinitely more picturesque
than any of their cousins, captured by some city-bred
man for his country seat, and clipped, with malice
aforethought, into the form of a spinning top or an
umbrella or a spindle of button molds. If such barbering
of trees is art, let 's go back to Nature where the blind
forces of the air provoke the tree souls to fight for life and
so achieve undreamed-of marvels of matchless beauty.
FRIENDSHIP implies more than a passing acquaint-
ance. It is something that germinates and grows,
flourishes, blooms, ripens.
How many times some fashionably dressed woman,
painted, powdered, and bejeweled, has said to me, after
hearing a lecture about the Tree Folk, ''Oh, I do just
adore trees. I wish you could see the oak on my front
lawn!" ''What kind of an oak is it?" I ask, full of in-
terest at once. "Oh, I don't know; I ought to. I shall
have to ask my gardener about that." "Ask your gar-
dener!" I feel like shouting; "Ask your gardener! Go
home and ask your grandmother the name of your hus-
band. I suppose you 'just adore' him, too, don't you?"
Some people do not know what love means.
28 THE TREE FOLK
Start a friendship with one tree. Go to that old Oak
at least once each season — in spring, in summer, in
autumn, and in winter. Stand a respectful distance from
him, before sunrise, some morning in September, and
see him take shape out of the gloom, feature by feature,
until he smiles at you the best *'good morning!" you
ever heard. See him at noon under ''July's meridian
light." How he glitters! What a handsome braided rug
of violet and green and gold he throws beneath his feet!
See him in November at sunset, when he stretches out
his giant arms and waves the last remnants of his royal
crimson robes as a salute to his departing god. Visit him
once in a fog; once when it rains; once when he wears
ermine like a king; once when he is dressed in crystal
for the carnival of sunshine the morning after an ice
storm. Go look at him once when his green waves rise
and fall and roar and hiss under the lashings of a tempest.
See him without his robes some morning in February,
when you can admire his fine proportions, and the ath-
letic muscles of his limbs with their knotted joints, as
Enid once admired Geraint. Notice the texture of his
skin, and that now empty "nest of robins in his hair,"
which Joyce Kilmer told about. See him some calm
morning in April when after his long sleep he stands
breathless before the sun god with his peace offering of
ten thousand times ten thousand jewels of topaz. See
THE TREE FOLK 29
him once in the soft night when he is resting within his
star-ht paviHon of purple.
I thought I knew ''Spudaios/' but he gave me a sur-
prise one morning in January when I found his body
sheathed in plate glass. I never dreamed that a Pine
trunk could have such colors. You do not know your
favorite Ash until you have heard his triumphant bass,
some windy day in March. He holds the record for
depth and vigor in the lower registers of tone. An Apple
tree in bloom under a full moon is divinely beautiful.
On that night in May wings of angels fill the orchard
and charge the air with the odors of paradise. Then go
there at noon when the golden bees are singing.
"A friend is one who knows all about you and likes
you just the same," you remember. Has any single tree
the right to claim you as a friend upon that basis? Do
you know all about him? Alas, nobody does. He is a
mystery at best. Go to any open door in the forest, any
Gothic arch you see in the bole of an old Tulip or Maple,
giving access to his heart, stand there reverently upon
his door mat of leaf-dappled moss, and knock gently.
You will find, as John Burroughs said, that ''The Infi-
nite himself will come to answer."
But do not be discouraged. The tree will welcome you
as a friend, though ignorant, and stupid, and bashful.
All the trees ask is a little affectionate attention.
30 THE TREE FOLK
LOVE of the Tree Folk has always been strong in the
hearts of all lovers of beauty. Egyptian artists drew
trees upon the walls of the palaces of the Pharaohs, and
trees adorn the universal history of art the world around,
from Japan westward to the Golden Gate. They have
inspired poets. There are poems about trees in all lan-
guages from the Aryan to modern English. Do you
know "Wilderness Songs'' by Grace Hazard Conkling?
That is one of the latest books saturated with a love of
Nature, and one of the best.
Among the literature inspired by the Tree Folk is
a fine Psalm of Friendly Trees by Henry Van Dyke.
He is moved to adoration and prayer:
How fair are the trees that befriend the home of man,
The oak, and the terebinth, and the sycamore,
The fruitful jBg-tree and the silvery olive.
In them the Lord is loving to his little birds, —
The linnets and the finches and the nightingales, —
They people his pavilions with nests and with music.
Lord, when my spirit shall return to thee,
At the foot of a friendly tree let my body be buried,
That this dust may rise and rejoice
Among the branches.
Another poem to be treasured is by Joyce Kilmer.
With the generous permission of our friend, the Author,
now happy by the banks of the river clear as crystal,
where the Tree of Life yields its twelve manner of fruits
THE TREE FOLK 31
every month, whose leaves are for the healing of the
Nations — with his permission I would quote the last
lines of his poem, changing but a single word:
Pictures "are made by fools like me;
But only God can make a tree."